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Pharmacoeconomics. 2004;22(3):185-95.

Cost effectiveness of interventions for lateral epicondylitis: results from a randomised controlled trial in primary care.

Author information

1
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ibc.Korthals-de_Bos.EMGO@med.vu.nl

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Lateral epicondylitis is a common complaint, with an annual incidence between 1% and 3% in the general population. The Dutch College of General Practitioners in The Netherlands has issued guidelines that recommend a wait-and-see policy. However, these guidelines are not evidence based.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

This paper presents the results of an economic evaluation in conjunction with a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effects of three interventions in primary care for patients with lateral epicondylitis.

PATIENTS AND INTERVENTIONS:

Patients with pain at the lateral side of the elbow were randomised to one of three interventions: a wait-and-see policy, corticosteroid injections or physiotherapy.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES AND RESULTS:

Clinical outcomes included general improvement, pain during the day, elbow disability and QOL. The economic evaluation was conducted from a societal perspective. Direct and indirect costs (in 1999 values) were measured by means of cost diaries over a period of 12 months. Differences in mean costs between groups were evaluated by applying non-parametric bootstrap techniques. The mean total costs per patient for corticosteroid injections were euro430, compared with euro631 for the wait-and-see policy and euro921 for physiotherapy. After 12 months, the success rate in the physiotherapy group (91%) was significantly higher than in the injection group (69%), but only slightly higher than in the wait-and-see group (83%). The differences in costs and effects showed no dominance for any of the three groups. The incremental cost-utility ratios were (approximately): euro7000 per utility gain for the wait-and-see policy versus corticosteroid injections; euro12000 per utility gain for physiotherapy versus corticosteroid injections, and euro34500 for physiotherapy versus the wait-and-see policy.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of this economic evaluation provided no reason to update or amend the Dutch guidelines for GPs, which recommend a wait-and-see policy for patients with lateral epicondylitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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